- Tom H
Yella Belly | Bad Dog/Last Days (debut single)
NYC-based alt/indie band Yella Belly bursts onto the music scene with their impressive "double A-side" debut single, which features two different, but complementary musical facets of the band's creative process - the rebellious, rocking "Bad Dog," followed by an easy, classic rock-sounding "Last Days."
Yella Belly is comprised of William Thompson, Connor Jones, and Jake Hiebert. The band represents a fresh start for its members, who were previously part of other emerging and successful indie bands, including Elliot & the Ghost and TØMA. After wandering in the New York City music scene, the trio found themselves writing together in 2019, bringing together their rock roots and lust for infectious riffs, both live and in their recordings. Equal parts Texas grit and New York energy, Yella Belly is a feeling set to a rebellious holler, a firecracker spark in a world on fire, a bunch of soft boys making music for a hard world.
SoundThread Music Blog caught up with Yella Belly's Will Thompson, who comments on the synergy among its members, "I didn't wanna skip a beat once Elliot & The Ghost was officially through. The idea of a fresh start just added more to the excitement. Connor and I met up with my friend Jake, who had recently moved to NY from my hometown in Austin and who'd been drumming in bands down there. Once we got together, things starting moving pretty quickly. I think we got five songs after our first time playing together."
The band's ability to produce cutting edge, attention grabbing music has clearly been noticed, as Yella Belly finds themselves opening for the legendary Johnny Marr (The Smiths) on several of his East Coast tour dates. Will remarks, "With this new group, it seems like we're barely wasting anytime, fine by me. We started playing together only a couple months ago, already hit the studio, and are going on the road with Johnny Marr next week for our first shows out. It's kinda crazy."
Lead single "Bad Dog" is loaded with a prominent, catchy guitar hook and infectious vibe - a track that immediately engages the listener. Will explains, "'Bad Dog' is the first song I brought the guys, and after the first time playing it together, we all looked at each other and decided we were making a band. Just the simplest groove, sometimes that's just it. Felt only right to record that one." The more relaxed feel of "Last Days," with its roots in solid, classic rock, makes it the perfect complement to "Bad Dog". Will reveals, "'Last Days' has been a song I've written and rewritten in my head about a million times over. Never really getting it right, but always saving it for another day. There's something about that song- I just couldn't leave it behind. Feel like I finally got it right this time around."
While the musical styles may differ, both songs have tremendous breakthrough potential and could easily establish Yella Belly as a emerging presence in the indie music scene, placing them on music industry "ones to watch" lists. We wondered the two tracks were representative of the band's range of musical styles. Will confirms, "Exactly! In our live show, and the new songs we've been writing, there's so many different styles mashed up in there. Honky Tonk ballads, and then a fast-as-shit punk tune. There is a way to align the music and style and so far, I think we're doing it. 'Bad Dog' is one side of us, and 'Last Days' another. Would be great if we could bridge all these things we love together into one voice."
Regarding musical influences among the Yella Belly members, Will points out, "The band shares a big love of all the old stuff- Velvet Underground, Clash, Stones, T. Rex., Elvis Costello, etc. I'm kinda the big Country nut- Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons, going back further to Monroe Brothers, Carter Family, and then newer folks like Nikki Lane." When it comes to the magic touch of production, Will comments, "I've always loved the old Tony Visconti productions with acts like Bowie and Marc Bolan. Those grooves and textures are always something I try and incorporate in the studio. The last few years we've been working with producer Ben Rice at his studio Degraw Sound in New York. He's a great voice in the room, and always helps us to see what's dumb and what's not essential."
Thanks to Will for the insightful responses and taking time to chat with us!
Until we hear more new music from Yella Belly, keep an eye out for upcoming live performances from the band in your neck of the woods. For more information about Yella Belly, visit the band's official website, follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and find their music on SoundCloud and Spotify.
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